Monthly Archives: December 2010

New Agency Disclosure in Pound Ridge NY | Pound Ridge Real Estate

A New Broker Disclosure Law in New York  _  Pound Ridge Real Estate

AS if the process of shopping for an apartment weren’t fraught enough, potential buyers and renters will have to deal with another wrinkle this year, when a new real estate broker-disclosure law goes into effect in New York.

The law requires a real estate agent to have clients sign a form stating that they understand whom the agent represents and to whom the agent will give “undivided loyalty,” as soon as they enter into a relationship.

Brokers are interpreting that to mean that the form does not have to be produced for everyone who walks into an open house, but rather as soon as someone starts asking substantive questions about a property, and certainly when someone asks for an appointment to see it a second time. Given that many apartment hunters are reluctant even to put their names on a sign-in sheet at an open house, agents do not want to have to present them with forms any sooner than necessary.

The disclosure law is designed to clarify the roles of buyers’ and sellers’ agents, in order to, as the form itself states, “help you to make informed choices about your relationship with the real estate broker and its sales associates.” The form goes on to define the various categories of agent.

Assemblyman Jonathan L. Bing, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, says the new law increases consumer protection because previous disclosure forms were required only in transactions involving single-family homes and buildings with four or fewer units. Mr. Bing said the state and city Realtors’ associations had joined with him in urging passage of the law because it simplifies disclosure of dual agency, in which an agent represents both a buyer and a seller. Buyers can now sign one form providing advance consent to dual agency rather than having to sign a form for each listing that they might see.

“This is a consumer protection law,” said Neil Garfinkel, residential counsel to the Real Estate Board of New York, “but it also protects brokers, because now they will have a written record of what they’re already required to do now verbally.” If a complaint is filed against an agent for not producing a disclosure form, the penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 and, potentially, a requirement that the agency return the commission.

The law will also apply to sellers and landlords, but for them it will presumably be less jarring, because they will already be in negotiation with an agent for an exclusive contract. The disclosure forms will be fairly straightforward when agents are acting either for the buyer or for the seller. But often circumstances are less clear-cut, because they are acting as dual agents.

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4 Steps To Get Your Katonah NY Shortsale Approved | Katonah NY Real Estate

You can save a few hundred a month by buying discount items on Ebay or Amazon and by searching for the hottest deals. Saving a few hundred bucks a month is a ton over a year and its effects are even greater over 10 years. But what if that’s not enough? What if you need to somehow impossibly cut back your expenses like $1000-$1500 because you lost your job or your savings have depleted?

The mortgage payment is America’s single highest expense.

Honoring your word is sacred. You signed on the dotted line and said you would pay your debts. Abraham Lincoln spent 17 years paying off debt he borrowed to start a business in 1833. The virtues of repaying debt and honoring your commitments are self-evident.

However, at some point you have to acknowledge when the snowball gets irreversibly big and you have to make a decision between food and the mortgage. Most people choose the former.

I do not advocate walking away from your mortgage for the sake of it, but if you can only hang in for 3-6 months, you might have to take a close and hard look at the situation and start preparing accordingly. While you might not need a short sale, you might need to prepare for one or at least look at this option. Downsizing and renting can potentially save you thousands of dollars per month.

How do I get started on a short sale?

Just like purchasing a home, it takes time to work a short sale – in many cases, even more time. Be patient and take it one step at a time. This can often take 90-180 days, and if successful, could be well worth your time.

1. Contact your bank – before the end of the road, you want to make sure that you’ve given them notice (i.e., speed bumps). Calling 30 days before you can’t make payment might not be helpful. See if there are loan modifications or refinancing programs that might help alleviate the burden. If you can’t find a viable and durable solution, then consider short selling your home. Request a short sale package to get the process started.

2. Find a short sales agent – it pays dividends to make sure you work with a realtor that has time of the day to answer your questions and go through the process with you. A short sale requires more time, thought, and effort to execute properly to bring all the relevant parties such as buyer, seller, lender, agents, title and escrow companies. Use an agent with good follow up.

3. Third party negotiators – sometimes (although not all) sellers in a short sales employ negotiators that charge a separate fee in addition to the realtor commissions (buyer’s and seller’s agent commissions). The beauty of this for the seller is that it does not directly cost the seller anything. It ultimately comes from the bank’s funds (or proceeds). However, there are plenty of short sales in which a “third party negotiator” is employed and the listing agent shares their commission with the negotiator.

I tend to like these arrangements where the seller’s agent and negotiator split the selling agents commission. Much of the work and brain damage comes from negotiating with the bank and making sure the borrower has everything right. If the seller’s agent does not do any negotiating besides list the property below market, they don’t earn their keep. In these arrangements, the listing agent can split their commission 35/65, where the agent gets 35% and the negotiator gets 65% or 50/50, etc.

Feel free to ask your agent whether they play to employ a negotiator and what the commission split is and why. While some agents can get prickly, you have every right to know if you plan to hire the agent.

4. Pricing – some agents will deceivingly tell you to list your property at a fire-sale price. They say this will help get an offer on the price after which you can send to the bank to move the short sale process along. If the agent tells you to fire-sale the property, do not use this agent. While this may not be fraudulent or negligent behavior, it shows inexperience. All banks that approve short sales employ a valuation method often know as a broker’s price opinion (BPO). This valuation gives the bank a reference point on the value of the property and whether the short sale makes “business sense” to approve.

For example, if the contract price is $300k, but the BPO comes back at $600k the bank will likely not approve a 50% discount. However, if the BPO comes back at $350k (a 14% discount) then may approve this just to get the property out of their hair.

Time is precious. Don’t waste it on apparent solutions that will not avail. In 2009, the banks were seen approving discounts of 15% or greater for homes. In 2010, banks have gotten tighter on their discounts and are typically seen approving discounts on short sales of 7-10%.

The goal: Price realistically and close to the market. You want the deal approved so you can get rid of debt and move on.

What is a Deficiency and Why is it Important?

As part of short sale negotiations you should know whether the bank will maintain their deficiency rights. A deficiency exists when a bank receives less money than it is owed. For example, you owe $400k but the bank only received $300k. $100k is your deficiency.

In cases where the bank maintains their full deficiency rights you may want to think twice about the short sale because you are still fully responsible for the deficiency. I have cases where borrowers negotiated this out of the deal. This is highly recommended if possible.

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Lewisboro Real Estate Prices Rising in 2010 | Lewisboro NY Real Estate | RobReportBlog

Taking a look at the Katonah-Lewisboro school district real estate prices over the last ten years we found median prices were rising until their peak in 2007.  In 2008 and 2009 prices dropped.  In 2010 the median price for a Katonah-Lewisboro school district home rose again.

2000          $502,000

2001          $595,000

2002          $647,500

2003          $675,000

2004          $750,000

2005          $749,500

2006          $790,000

2007          $815,000

2008          $730,000

2009          $617,500

2010          $690,000

Inventory is still high but the median price in Lewisboro shows a good increase in 2010. 

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Mt Kisco NY Restaurant Names Soup After Governor Elect Cuomo | Mt Kisco NY Real Estate

A restaurant in Mount Kisco has unveiled a new soup in honor of Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo, who lives in New Castle (but has a Mount Kisco mailing address). Via Vanti! is now serving “Lago di Cuomo” soup. It is a “puree of warming winter greens served with a crostini topped with goat

cheese, chopped tomato and fresh basil,” the restaurant said in a news release. The soup is vegan and non-dairy, and a gluten-free crostini is available upon request.

The soup, while named for Cuomo, is also inspired by the Lago di Como resort destination in northern Italy, according to the restaurant. Customers will get a free taste of the “inaugural soup” during January. Lago di Cuomo will be one of Via Vanti!’s seasonal soups, and $1 from every purchase of it will be donated to the Food Bank of Westchester.

The 2-year-old restaurant is located in the historic Mount Kisco Train Station at 2 Kirby Plaza.

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Readers Digest Moves Last Employees Out Of Chappaqua | Chappaqua NY Real Estate

CHAPPAQUA — The immense winged Pegasus statues will stay — but only because the symbols of Reader’s Digest are too heavy to be moved from atop the Georgian cupola. The stretch of blacktop off the Saw Mill River Parkway is still called Reader’s Digest Road. But the company that gave these things to Chappaqua is gone. Some might say Reader’s Digest as they knew it has been gone for a while. But this month the Digest officially moved its last workers out of the building in Chappaqua where it put out the world’s largest-circulation magazine since 1939. The Digest’s new headquarters are in Manhattan and a few departments work out of White Plains. The Chappaqua headquarters building that was for decades filled with thousands of employees will be leased to other companies by its new owners. But the memories of the Digest’s days in Chappaqua will linger.

In its heyday during the lifetime of its founders, DeWitt and Lila Wallace, the company took its place as the premier corporate citizen of Chappaqua, a place where locals could go down and get a job and employees were treated to legendary perks. But after its founders died and the company went public in 1990, the things that made both the magazine and the business distinctive began to change as it tried to remake itself to fit a new media landscape.

For decades, though, the Digest was different.

“It was a very great place to work,” said Ed Thompson, a former editor-in-chief for The Reader’s Digest Association. “I can’t imagine a company being better.”

For DeWitt Wallace, the most important thing was his employees, not the readers, said Thompson, who joined the company in 1960 and lives in North Salem.

“He wanted them to be as happy as can be and paid well,” he said.

The Wallaces spent a lot of money keeping their staff cheerful and intellectually stimulated, sending editors on annual trips to destinations of their choosing and clerical employees to Colonial Williamsburg, buying museum-quality art to hang in the halls and offices of the headquarters and bringing in famous people from presidents to Arctic explorers for lunches in the Guest House on the Digest grounds.

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Chappaqua NY Dutch Colonial Cottage Restored to Its Original Beauty | Chappaqua NY Real Estate

NEW CASTLE — When Brenda Kelly Kramer had an 1890 cottage put back together piece by piece next to her house in Chappaqua, she left rafters exposed on each side of the upper floor to show the red and blue color coding that kept the pieces in order while the roof was disassembled, moved and reconstructed.

Downstairs, a strip of wood across the floor shows where the bottom level was cut in half so it could be trucked through Chappaqua.

The house spent its first 120 years on Taylor Road, originally as a coachman’s house for the estate known as Annandale belonging to Moses Taylor, a prominent banker and grandson of the founder of Citibank who once owned a large swath of Chappaqua. It arrived at Kramer’s house in January, and was put together over the next several months.

“We had all the rafters on the lawn,” Kramer said.

Now the Dutch Colonial cottage, reborn as an addition on South Place three miles away from where it was first built, is nearly done and Kramer, an interior designer, is working on the final touches. Kramer has decided to decorate the house with a Bermuda theme with sea-glass blue popping up on chairs, a bar sink, lamps and elsewhere. Bottles of island sand wait to be used in the decorating. Pictures dotted around the cottage evoke a vacation at the beach.

The cottage was to be torn down by a developer who had built a larger, modern home on the Taylor Road property. When Kramer said she wanted the house, he gave her the time to figure out how to move it.

Kramer said as she has been working on the restoration, she has talked to many people who felt they had a connection to the house, even if it was just admiring it as they drove by.

“It was sweet, this little sweet cottage,” Kramer said.

After it was put back together, it still needed a lot of work to upgrade the plumbing and other systems, add an energy-efficient heating system and enclose the walls. The contractors on the job had experience with the difficulties of rebuilding a house without plans and with old materials.

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Check Your Radon Levels in Katonah NY | Katonah NY Real Estate

EPA Recommends

  • Test your home for radon — it’s easy and inexpensive.
  • Fix your home if your radon level is 4 picocuries per liter, or pCi/L, or higher.
  • Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases may be reduced.
EPA estimates that radon causes thousands of cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.
radon health risks
* Radon is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, according to EPA’s 2003 Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003). The numbers of deaths from other causes are taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2005-2006 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Report and 2006 National Safety Council Reports.

Indoor Environments Division (6609J)
EPA 402-K-09-001, January 2009

How to Order Publications

You can order Indoor Air Quality publications from EPA’s National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP)
P.O. Box 42419,
Cincinnati, OH 45242-0419
Phone:  1-800-490-9198 (M-F from 9:30-5:30 eastern)
Fax:  (301) 604-3408


Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas.

You can’t see radon. And you can’t smell it or taste it. But it may be a problem in your home.

Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths each year. That’s because when you breathe air containing radon, you can get lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

Radon can be found all over the U.S.

Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon can be found all over the U.S. It can get into any type of building — homes, offices, and schools — and result in a high indoor radon level. But you and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home, where you spend most of your time.

You should test for radon.

Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. EPA also recommends testing in schools.

Testing is inexpensive and easy — it should only take a few minutes of your time. Millions of Americans have already tested their homes for radon (see How to Test Your Home).


EPA Webpage

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7 Homes Burglarized in Bedford NY. | Bedford NY Real Estate

BEDFORD NY– Bedford, Pound Ridge, and Westchester County police were on the move today on the ground and overhead.

They were racing from one house alarm to another on Tuesday. Burglars in broad daylight robbed seven Bedford homes all in the same general

area.  The thieves ransacked the homes, bypassed Christmas presents, and got away with jewelry, electronics and video game systems.

Particularly disturbing for authorities is the number of people who called police today saying they saw something suspicious on Tuesday.

“They were observed in several different areas. The same vehicle description, the same persons description. It would have been helpful to get that

information right away,” Lt. Jeff Dickan said.

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Scarlett Johansson Loses $3 Million On LA Home Sale | Armonk NY Real Estate

Many American homeowners lost their shirts, their shorts and even their homes when the U.S. economy fell off the wall like Humpty Dumpty. Two years later the government still struggles to put it all back together again while regular hardworking Americans and stars of all stripes continue to be pummeled by the steep devaluation of their real estate investments, many of which were purchased at the peak of the recent real estate bubble.

Even though they priced them far below what they paid, there were oodles of celebs who failed to sell their homes in 2010 and many who lost substantial amounts of money, even when they did manage to offload their properties. And still other famous folks, like Latoya Jackson, Timothy Busfield and hip-hop entrepreneur Damon Dash, found themselves forced into foreclosure on luxurious and expensive residences they could no longer afford.

One of the biggest losers in the 2010 celebrity real estate game was idiosyncratic and stunningly beautiful actress Scarlett Johansson who plunked down a very A-list $7 million to buy a huge house in May of 2007 in the star studded Outpost Estates section of Los Angeles. (This was before she wed Ryan Reynolds; she and Reynolds made headlines this week when they announced their marriage was over after just two years.) Her neighbors included Oscar nominated desperate housewife Felicity Huffman and Oscar winner Charlize Theron. Property records show Johansson caught a very serious and costly case of the real estate fickle and sold the 1930s Spanish hillside villa at a pocketbook punishing $3 million loss in June of 2010.

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Blizzard in Bedford NY | Bedford NY Real Estate

Bedford NY Snow Storm today!!